Very Skinny Condo Building on West 86th Wins Approval

by - May 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm -

A developer has been wanting to build a 17-story building on a 20-foot-wide plot of land on 86th Street for the past decade. A couple of weeks ago, he received approval to do so from the city Board of Standards and Appeals, and now some local activists are saying they were blindsided.

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330 West 86th now (left) and the proposed building (right).

The residents of the five-story townhouse at 330 West 86th Street between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue bought it for $340,000 under a special city program called the Urban Development Action Area Project in 1999. In 2001, they turned around and sold it to Darkhorse Development for $2.25 million, the Real Deal reported. Robert Ricciardelli, the owner of Darkhorse, wanted to develop it into a 17-story building, but residents of an adjacent condo sued, and the deal has been tied up in court and held up by city agencies for years now.

But on April 20, the Board of Standards and Appeals, to which developers can appeal for relief on zoning restrictions, ruled in Darkhorse’s favor, saying it can build a four-unit building on the site. A skinny 17-story four-unit building? That’s almost completely impossible to envision. And it could be even harder to sell.

Ricciardelli told The Real Deal that the city had wasted his time and money (as well as the taxpayers), estimating the appeals had cost him $500,000.

The Coalition for a Livable West Side has now started a campaign to stop the redevelopment, asking people to contact their elected representatives. Mostly, they are angry that Board of Standards and Appeals can change zoning without having to go through the city planning department.

“Neighborhoods throughout the city have complained long and hard about the ability of the BSA to hand out variances,” the coalition wrote in an email. “Lawyers use their knowledge of the BSA arcane language to know what to say as ‘proof’ that each one of the five conditions set out in the law have been met. Planning on land use belongs to the City Planning Commission and its support agency, the Department of City Planning.”

(photo of building rendering via New York Times)

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